MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin soccer team makes its 12th Ohio Valley Conference Tournament appearance this weekend, as the Skyhawks are playing host to the six-team OVC Championships taking place on Nov. 1-4 at Skyhawk Field.
UT Martin earned the right to host the league’s postseason tournament by notching its first-ever outright OVC title. The Skyhawks finished the regular season with an 11-5-3 overall record and 8-1-1 mark against league foes. UT Martin closed the season out strong, winning five straight as part of a 10-1-2 mark in its last 13 matches.
“It is our privilege to host the OVC Tournament championship, especially since it will be the first time for the sport of soccer,” Skyhawk head coach Phil McNamara said. “We expect excellent games from six very competitive OVC teams. I need to thank our UT Martin athletics staff and athletic teams for their remarkable effort and support already this week. We want the tournament to be a good experience for all the teams.”
The Skyhawks enter the tournament as the league’s most dangerous offensive squads, as they lead the OVC in shots (320), points (116), goals (42) and assists (32). UT Martin’s balanced offense features seven double-digit scorers, led by freshman Saphyra Coombs-James. She ranks second in the league in points (24) and goals (10), while her three game-winning goals rank third in the OVC. She has scored 11 points in the last four games, netting goals in all four games (including a two goal, one assist performance against Eastern Kentucky on Oct. 14).
Kendyl Wilson (five goals, OVC-best seven assists), Abi Sanvee (seven goals), Dominika Conc (four goals, five assists), Midori Sera (five goals, one assist), Alyssa Curtis (four goals, two assists) and Hannah McGowen (three goals, four assists) round out UT Martin’s double-figure scorers.
Defensively, the Skyhawks have hit their stride just in time for postseason play. UT Martin limited every OVC opponent to one goal or less during the regular season, including shutouts in four of the last five matches. The stingy back line of Mary Thompson, Ashley Reveiz, Amy Maksimowicz and Lucy Pater have helped the Skyhawks produce a miniscule 0.20 Goals Against Average in those final five matches of the regular season.
In goal, Mariah Klenke has been clutch all season long. She enters the tournament with a 1.07 GAA and four shutouts – both of which rank fourth in the OVC. Despite her sophomore status, she became UT Martin’s all-time winningest goalkeeper in Sunday’s 6-0 win over Tennessee Tech, tallying her 20th career victory in just her 34th career match. The Skyhawks are also in reliable hands with backup Sarah Tompkins (0.51 GAA, .950 save percentage), who has conceded just one goal in 175:56 this season.
UT Martin will look to use its home field advantage this weekend in hopes of its second trip to the NCAA Tournament in as many years. The Skyhawks have won six straight matches at home, with their only home setback coming to Southeastern Conference opponent Vanderbilt (2-0) in the season opener on Aug. 17. UT Martin has outscored the opposition by a 20-3 margin during its current six-match home winning streak.
“We are working hard to ensure our team will be motivated and focused on winning a difficult game on Friday,” McNamara said. “We ask that everybody come out and support your Skyhawks.”
Two quarterfinal matches take place on Thursday, Nov. 1, as Southeast Missouri takes on Belmont at 4 p.m., followed by Eastern Kentucky against SIU Edwardsville at 7 p.m. The Skyhawks then make their debut in the semifinals at 4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 2 against the Southeast Missouri/Belmont winner, while No. 2 seed Austin Peay battles the winner of Eastern Kentucky/SIU Edwardsville. The two semifinal winners will then meet at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 4 with a trip to the NCAA Tournament on the line.